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UK encourages Kenya to join EITI extraction transparency initiative

The UK is encouraging Kenya to subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a system designed to improve the way revenues from oil, gas and minerals are managed, a British high commissioner said Tuesday during an industry forum in Nairobi.

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British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner said the initiative ensures people share the economic benefits of natural resources in their country.

Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique are all EITI compliant and seeing benefits of the voluntary approach, which is set up to help tackle corruption.

"We believe that EITI membership would bring similar ... benefits for Kenya and help create the environment which will attract investment and ... facilitate the equitable and sustainable development of the Kenyan extractives sector," Turner said.

Tullow Oil and Africa Oil Corp. in March 2012 discovered crude oil in the South Lokichar basin in northwestern Kenya.

The resources encountered in block 10 BB and 13T are believed to contain 600 million barrels.

If Kenya joins EITI at an early stage in the development of the country's extractives sector, the global initiative would help the east African country "maximize the benefits and avoid some of challenges experienced in other countries," Turner said.

Turner said discovery of oil and gas can be a defining moment, though "lessons from other countries reveal the potential and pitfalls of a booming extractive sector."

"While it can boost an economy and fuel growth in other sectors, it can also distort the economy ... and foster conflict and insecurity," he said. "In Kenya, the oil and gas sector has a huge potential to secure foreign investment and a significant boost to [gross domestic product]."

--Edited by Annie Siebert,